The taxi door slams and your neighbours take off for yet another tropical vacation. Though you’d love to match their sightseeing itinerary, it won’t fit your retirement plan: You can’t afford to yawn your way around the golf course or see the world in a sailboat. Does retirement leave you wondering, What next?

The need for affirmation, measurable achievements and relationships doesn’t change with age. But meeting those needs after retirement means re-examining what it means to flourish and bear fruit. Don’t let the fertile possibilities pass you by.

Read Psalm 92:12-14: "The righteous . . . will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green." For a rich and fertile life, one that makes a difference regardless of your pension package, consider these meaningful options.

Invest in others

Investing in people’s lives in practical ways may be one passport to adventure. Dave, age 62 says, "Retirement worried me until I helped rebuild a single mom’s home after [Hurricane] Katrina." His voice chokes. "I can’t wait to return."

Patricia, age 61, invested her people skills in her neighbourhood. She mailed questionnaires to neighbours, asking about their likes and interests. Then based on the responses, she organized a craft group, a Christmas cookie bake and a book club. As she interacts with women, they see her vivaciousness and light and want to know her Source.

Henry and Betty, in their early 60s, chose to bear fruit together in old age. Betty’s love for others led her to the church prayer team, and Henry picked up his hammer. Each Monday they go to church. She prays, and he pounds away on a room renovation.

None of these possibilities drains funds from a smaller income. But investing in other people brings life to these retirees.

Reinvent yourself

Stowing your briefcase or turning in your office key may feel scary. What about reinventing yourself and using those workplace skills? Start by asking, "What did I love about work? What do I miss? How can I use those years of experience?" Invite God into the process, and match the answers with the needs around you.

Rather than mourn their changing role as parents, when their nest emptied, Ted and Janet retired early at age 48 and launched a second career. They became house parents to a ranch, full of needy boys. Though their income is drastically reduced, their hearts and home are full.

Victoria, age 67, noticed young moms’ exhaustion and began inviting small groups into her home. She treats them to high tea, teaching them to make scones and clotted cream. Each autumn she hosts a canning soirée, mentoring the women in the almost-lost art.

John, age 62, struggled with discouragement after leaving the workforce. He had few outside involvements during his income-producing years but put his organizational skills to use when his church started a coffee shop. John orders the supplies, schedules the workers and now brews a great cup of java.

Never retired from the Lord's work

Retirement needn’t be a sentence to a limited life. However you spend your retirement years, the calling remains the same as when you were younger. Jesus said to love the Lord and your neighbours. As you re-examine yourself, invest in others and reinvent your skills, the outcome may invigorate you and be better than any tropical vacation.

Jane Rubietta co-lead Abounding Ministries with her husband in the mid-western United States at the time of publication.

© 2007 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

If you liked this article and would like to go deeper, we have some helpful resources below.

Our recommended resources

Join our newsletter

Advice for every stage of life delivered straight to your inbox